International Overdose Awareness Day, August 31st - A Time to remember loved ones and end overdose
Local communities in Arizona and around the world are coming together to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose.
Observed on the 31st of August every year, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) seeks to create better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.
By holding local events, the people of Tucson, Arizona are joining themselves to a global movement for understanding, compassion, and change.
In 2021, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, the world united to hold hundreds of IOAD events of all kinds in at least 37 countries – a phenomenal result. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s most recent World Annual Drug Report, nearly half a million people around the world died as a result of drug use in 2019.
Early statistics and anecdotal evidence for the 2021 calendar year show that the situation is becoming ever-more critical, exacerbated in many areas by the pandemic decreasing the tolerance of people who use drugs and disrupting both services and the drug supply chain.
People and communities come together annually to raise awareness of one of the world’s most urgent public health crises – one that, unfortunately, is only getting worse. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) launched their One Pill Can Kill Campaign in December 2021, to raise awareness regarding the effects of Synthetic Opioids (Fentanyl and Carfentanyl). They have acknowledged that due to the Ease of Access, drug dealers are targeting younger and younger members in our community through social media (SnapChat, Facebook, Instagram, Etc).
The Enlightening Hope Project was formed due to the loss of my son, Jesus G. Gutierrez and for others who have lost their battle to addiction. As my oldest daughter and I sat in our living room, trying our hardest to erase the memory of those last breaths my son took on August 4, 2020…we thought about how hurt we were, being told that his life and death, did not matter.
We were saddened by the level of deterioration humanity has gotten to. We were extremely ANGRY that we were told that we didn’t have a right to grieve him and his life because he was a strain on society. We knew that something had to give…so in our despair, we needed to push and challenge the current boundaries regarding treatment, stigmas and overdose deaths. We needed to figure out what we could do to interrupt the status quo and eliminate barriers into a system that is breaking at the seams.
IOAD and every day is a moment we can use to support those who are still fighting through their recovery and for those who are in the battle alongside those still fighting.
IOAD and every day is about admiring those who continue to actively walk in their sobriety, knowing how hard that walk is/was…and having the ability to share their story.
IOAD and every day we honor those who were taken and provide you all the ability to celebrate them with the dignity and respect they deserve.
IOAD and every day is a stark reminder that even in the darkness of our broken hearts, there is light, that recovery and healing is possible. Out of the Darkness and into the light.